There are a lot of things that go into deciding on a design theme and layout for the homepage of an author website. But there’s one element that often seems to get overlooked in the process. It’s how often your website plans to be updated. Or another way to say it is this: Is your site a conversational blog? A static portfolio? Or somewhere in between?
If you plan to update your website regularly with blog posts, tweets, etc… then those things should be prominent on your homepage. Because one of the best things you can do with a website is to update it frequently. And you’re not truly maximizing the time you’re putting in to updating a website unless your homepage prominently features the newest information. If you’re going to have a “news and events” page that you think you’ll consistently be adding to, then you should have a corresponding “news and events” box on the homepage that features the newest of the news (with a link to see more, of course). Why make people have to click around to find what’s new?
Conversely, some authors prefer to use their website as a portfolio of their work. It’s a place they can send readers, publishers, etc… to see samples of their work, read their bio, download their media kits, etc… But they don’t plan to update it regularly, answer questions, or blog. If that’s the kind of website you envision, then your homepage should function very differently than a website with a blog, a forum, etc… When you’re creating a homepage for this type of site, what’s most important is the “look.” You can feature your photo, your bio, your books, etc… on the homepage. Whatever you believe the strongest, most important elements to be. You actually have a bit of an advantage, as you have the freedom to make the design more image-heavy and attractively laid-out than a blog site. A homepage that’s going to be changed frequently needs a flexible enough design that if you add/remove text, it won’t screw up the alignment.
Now most author sites sit somewhere in between the two types listed above. But the idea is the same: your homepage should feature the content which is strongest and most appealing. Just what that is depends a great deal on your update frequency.
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